How CMOs Make Melodies Out of Marketing

A marketing campaign is an orchestral performance and the teams behind them need the guidance of a CMO to keep the beat.

Written by Kim Conway
Published on Nov. 09, 2021
How CMOs Make Melodies Out of Marketing
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From a big-picture perspective, chief marketing officers have such broad expertise that, in a way, it’s as if they’re composing an elaborate, ongoing and ever-changing orchestral performance. The key might change and the tempo may ebb and flow, but a CMO will keep the melody in tune, eloquently directing and managing the moving parts to keep their ensemble aligned. 

Despite the second letter in a CMO’s title, their reach extends far beyond marketing. Throughout her years in the industry, CMO Meghan Rivera has been tangentially responsible for everything from sales and strategy to operations and general management at Akili Interactive Labs. She said she often has to come back to that big-picture mentality to refocus on how everything is connected — especially when the product she’s delivering isn’t tangible. 

Following a similar note, Anthony Cote depends on his varied career history to excel as a CMO. Speaking from his experience as marketing lead at Perceptive Automata, Cote recognized the importance of CMOs having a background that covers elements like digital, data and trend analysis, and user experience fundamentals. The best way to accomplish that? Learn, experiment, and most importantly: do.

With leaders who offer both encouragement and inspiration, the possibilities are endless. Rivera and Cote are the perfect examples of what makes a CMO so necessary to a marketing team — they are adaptable, analytical and creative, but also understand that everything narrows down to the same critical end point: the customer. Built In Boston learned how these professionals impact the way their marketing departments sing.

 

Meghan Rivera
Chief Marketing Officer, Head of Commercial • Akili Interactive Labs

 

What has your career trajectory looked like? 

I have been with Akili for just over a year, but have been working in a variety of roles across the healthcare industry for 20 years now. I found my passion for marketing about 12 or 13 years ago and since then have had the opportunity to grow into more leadership-focused roles over time. For the past five years, my responsibilities have expanded into opportunities to oversee multiple functions in addition to marketing, including sales, innovation, strategy and operations and, ultimately, into general management roles. 

I credit the incredible teams I’ve worked with for much of my success and have found that, above all else, building a culture of trust, transparency, empowerment, accountability, courage and fun leads to tremendous things. I bring my authentic self to work every single day and have confidence that, regardless of what is thrown at us, my team can overcome any challenge if we work together. We are committed to being the voice of our customers and know that if we keep them at the center of what we do, we will be doing what’s right for our business.

I bring my authentic self to work every single day and have confidence that my team can overcome any challenge if we work together.”

 

What surprised you most about your leadership role?

I’m not new to leadership, but as I’ve grown through the ranks, it was challenging at first to feel as if I was contributing without producing tangible products. In an executive role, I spend much of my time on things like setting vision and strategy, running air cover to enable my team to stay focused on their priorities, and helping to move our company forward as a whole. This is a big shift from the days of creating a campaign when you have something that you can see, feel and touch at the end of it. Sometimes you have to take a step back and think about how it’s all connected. It’s my responsibility as a senior leader to make sure my team is successful, and the work I do — regardless of whether there’s a clear and tangible output — hopefully enables them to do even more amazing things.

 

What advice do you have for marketers looking to move into a leadership role?

Stay connected to your customer. Research only gets you so far and empathy is an absolutely critical component of both marketing and leadership — never stop observing, learning and evolving.

Embrace diversity. The best teams I’ve had the chance to lead — that have produced the best work — have been the most diverse. Challenge your own beliefs and perspectives; it will only make you better. 

Take a chance on an organization that is willing to take a chance on you. Making a change can be scary at times, but finding a team, organization and senior leadership that is a cultural fit, embraces your strengths and provides you countless opportunities to grow is invaluable. Trust your gut and take the risk. It’ll be worth it.

 

 

Anthony Cote
Marketing Lead • Perceptive Automata

 

What has your career trajectory looked like?

I’ve been with Perceptive Automata for only four months and started in my current role as marketing lead. I’ve had a lot of exposure and held many marketing and communications roles at very large Fortune 10 companies, marketing communications agencies and startups in my career. I was really consumed by marketing, journalism and public relations coming out of college, and tried to learn and do everything — especially when digital entered the scene and showed explosive growth.

 

What surprised you most about your new leadership role? 

When I first started at Perceptive Automata, I knew the company had built something special for autonomous vehicles and robotics with its artificial intelligence software SOMAI. What I learned over the past few months is how special and innovative our approach really is, and how important sincere communication and thoughtful brand narrative is to our story. 

I’ve learned marketing fundamentals are critical here — as is having a solid digital background and the ability to do deep data dives and trend analysis. I’ve done multivariate testing on our website, and by knowing what UI/UX patterns — even something as simple as color theory — fundamentally tend to work, we’ve been able to grow our website traffic significantly in a really short time.

As a marketer, what you do at your company and for your customers is your legacy.”

 

What advice do you have for marketers looking to move into a leadership role?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Build a really solid background, learn as much as you can and experiment. As a leader, try to boost your emotional intelligence and seek out opinions from the people you work with. Some of the best collaborations and ideas I’ve had throughout my career have come from all levels — interns to CEOs. Additionally, always value your customers. As a marketer, what you do at your company and for your customers is your legacy.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by respective companies and Shutterstock.

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